Man arrested after overdoses at downtown city park

A police officer speaks to a man at New Haven Green on Wednesday

Seventy-six people overdosed on synthetic marijuana, called K2, in a park across from Yale University in New Haven, Conn. on Wednesday, authorities said. No deaths were reported but two people are seriously ill, authorities said. City officials cautioned in a news release that the arrested person is not yet confirmed as "the perpetrator sought in these cases", but had a warrant against him for violating probation.

"After 8:00 [a.m. Wednesday] we ended up with 12 victims in a 40-minute period. This is a problem that's not going away", New Haven Fire Chief John Alston Jr. said, according to NBC Connecticut. Dr. Kathryn Hawk, an Emergency Department physician at Yale New Haven Hospital, told the New Haven Register that the Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed the drugs contained K2 mixed with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that's roughly 50 times more potent than heroin. "We also have representatives with the DEA here".

A "mass overdose" appears to have taken place in a CT park today (Aug. 15), according to news reports.

Since Tuesday night, at least 99 people in New Haven overdosed on what is believed to be the synthetic drug K2. "One of the chemicals is fubinaca, which is really supposed to be, for whatever reason, knocking people down and taking them out". "Don't put your life in harm".

Some victims were found unconscious, while others were nauseous or lethargic.

Alston said drug overdoses in New Haven, as in other cities, are at epidemic proportions and that the city is in the grip of a public health crisis.

In two cases, Narcan was not effective in the field, but a high dose of Narcan at the hospital was effective in combating the overdose effects.

The fire chief said one of the victims still had some of the marijuana, which was sent for for testing.

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Officer David Hartman was quoted by the newspaper as saying the patients were being treated for overdose-related respiratory illnesses. He was also charged in connection with drug sales in the city earlier this year, the chief said.

In fact, some people overdosed and had to be transported as many as three times.

The response from emergency responders has been "tremendous", Fontana said.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the substance behind the overdoses is highly unsafe and must be avoided.

The AP notes, "New Haven first responders were called to a similar overdose outbreak on the Green on July 4, when more than a dozen people were sick from synthetic marijuana".

So far, no deaths have been reported.

According to court documents, after the overdoses this week, a preliminary investigation revealed Melendez was distributing it. The state has surpassed the national death rate for drug and opioid overdoses since 2013.

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